20 years of life-saving clean water for less than 1p a day


When we tell Fanu Tafer she owns one of the oldest BioSand Water Filters in all of Africa, the news prompts a satisfied smile.

Rather than talk about her filter’s longevity (20+ years) and low-cost durability, Fanu would rather talk about its profoundly beneficial impact on her family’s health.

The Ethiopian woman says before they received a BioSand Filter from Samaritan’s Purse in 1999, they suffered monthly from typhoid fever or other diarrhoeal diseases caused by unsafe drinking water.

Fanu Tafer holding glasses of clean and dirty water

Fanu Tafer holding glasses of water: before and after being filtered.

Before the filter Fanu’s family suffered monthly from illness

“I was at the point of death one time,” Fanu recalls. She had to be rushed to the nearest hospital.
There was another frightening incident when her husband was so weak with diarrhoea that he collapsed while tending the family’s corn crop. Neighbours carried him home.

“The water from it is so safe. It’s the way I grew up. It raised me.” —Frealem Eshetu

Fanu, now 40, was often fearful that one or more of her three children would die from the water they gathered at a nearby lake. Each new round of diarrhoea forced the children to miss valuable school time.

In 1999 a £70 filter changed the lives of her family for over 2 decades

But then Samaritan’s Purse arrived in her community. Funded by generous supporters like you, we offered to build concrete filters for as many households as possible. Fanu accepted our offer, and in the years since her family received their filter, “we have never experienced diseases from the water,” she says.

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Frealem Esthau and her daughter

Frealem Eshetu holds her young daughter, the third generation in her family to benefit from the same 20-year-old BioSand Filter.

Many of the families in Fanu’s region—about a 90-minute drive from Ethiopia’s capital city of Addis Ababa—now get water from a nearby pipeline. She and her family don’t live close enough to the line, so they still fill and carry plastic jerry cans with water from the lake where cattle drink and defecate.

Fanu says even if they could receive water from the pipeline, she would still pour it through the layers of purifying sand and gravel inside her filter. “Until I die, I will not stop using it,” she insists.

Her married daughter, Frealem Eshetu, has an equally strong attachment to the modest-looking concrete box. She tell us: “The water from it is so safe. It’s the way I grew up. It raised me.”

“I won’t drink water if it hasn’t been filtered”

Frealem’s brother Zerihtin was too young to remember the sickness his family experienced before getting their BioSand Filter. But he remembers getting sick from drinking water at other people’s homes with no filter: “I have that fear (of getting sick again) so I won’t drink water if it hasn’t been filtered.”

Zerihtin adds: “I am very grateful for our filter but I know many other people all over Ethiopia and in other countries still need them. And so I wish they could have them too.”

Before we leave Fanu’s home, we pray that God will grant her family more good health. They, in turn, promise to pray that Samaritan’s Purse will have the resources to continue building BioSand Filters in many parts of the world where they’re needed just as desperately as Fanu’s family needed one.

How is safe water possible so cheaply?

When Dr. David Manz invented BioSand Water Filters in 1994, he offered the technology to non-profit groups to help in the developing world.

Samaritan’s Purse accepted David’s offer because we knew that someone—often a child—is dying every minute* from diarrhoeal diseases caused by poor water quality and hygiene.

We tested the filter technology, confirmed it could turn dirty water into safe water in minutes, then arranged for the construction of 12 steel moulds from which concrete filters could be formed. We sent the moulds to several countries where we and our local Christian partners began building filters. One of the first countries was Ethiopia, where we’ve now built 32,000 filters.

Thanks be to God and to donors like you, worldwide we have built enough household BioSand Filters and larger scale Samaritan Filters for schools and small communities to help almost 1.7 million people. However, for many, their need remains urgent and critical.

Around 11% of the global population, over 800 million people** still lack access to safe clean water. Clean water for a family can cost less than 1p a day.

Will you help a family like Fanu’s receive the precious gift of life-saving clean water?

Thank You for your prayers and support.

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*Source: WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring (JMP) Report 2017, ** WHO/UNICEF Joint Monoitoring (JMP) Report 2017

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Matthew 25:35